As fans of the Game Of Thrones novels will tell you, it’s no fun waiting years to see how an epic fantasy saga will end. But fans of Duncan M. Hamilton won’t have this concern, as his new series, The Dragonslayer Trilogy — which just kicked off with Dragonslayer (paperback, Kindle) — will not only continue November 19th with the release of Knight Of The Silver Circle, but will then conclude March 10th with Servant Of The Crown. In the following email interview, Hamilton discusses what inspired and influenced both this series and its first installment, as well as whether you should wait to read it.
Photo Credit: Jason Clarke
To begin, what is Dragonslayer the novel and The Dragonslayer trilogy about?
Dragonslayer‘s plot ties together a few ideas. It’s about a man obsessed with power, another who had it all and squandered it, a woman living with a secret that could see her executed, and a world reacting to the wakening of things that have lain dormant for centuries. It’s about how all of these things interact with one another, and in what shape the characters come out the other side in.
And to be clear, this is not connected to the 1981 cult classic movie Dragonslayer, right?
Nope, not at all.
Where then did you get the idea for Dragonslayer?
It’s an amalgamation of two-story ideas that seemed to blend well when I was brainstorming them out, one about a has-been hero struggling to find purpose in life, and the other being the reaction of a world to the reappearance of dragons.
Obviously, Dragonslayer — and by extension, The Dragonslayer trilogy — is a fantasy tale. But are there other genres, of fantasy or otherwise, that are also at work in this story?
I think later medieval fantasy would be an appropriate niche for it. I’d say it’s also very much more in the heroic fantasy bracket rather than the high fantasy one.
Dragonslayer is not your first novel; you previously wrote The Society Of The Sword trilogy and the Wolf Of The North trilogy, among other things. What is it about trilogies that you like so much, as opposed to duologies or quadrilogies or whatever a 17-book series would be called?
I think there’s something about the 3-act structure that compliments the way I approach story telling. It’s always felt like a natural fit for me, for whatever reason. I have no issues with longer series, though, particularly when they’re centered on characters I really like — the Dresden Files, for example — and I may well try my hand at writing something a little more open ended at some point in the future.
So, are there any writers or specific stories that were a big influence on Dragonslayer but not on the Sword or Wolf books?
Not really. I tend to take most of my inspiration from reading history with a broad approach, and then have some fun playing around with those ideas and concepts with the more flexible framework fantasy as a genre provides.
How about movies, TV shows, and video games; did any of those have a particularly big impact on Dragonslayer?
In and of themselves, not so much, but there are a few games that I think provide a superb opportunity to get a feel for the atmosphere of life in different times. The Ezio era Assassin’s Creed games were great for that, as is the more recent Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which I thought was as authentic and immersive an experience as I’ve encountered in a video game.
And lastly for the influence questions: You have a Master’s Degree in History and Law, and practiced as a barrister. How, if at all, did your studies or your job influence Dragonslayer or The Dragonslayer series?
My time studying history definitely has influenced my writing, in a very major way. The subject has been a lifelong passion, so it’s not just limited to my University days, but is an ongoing thing for me. Law…not so much. I was more in the corporate litigation end of things, for which I have thus far struggled to find an engaging cross-over point with fantasy story telling. I touched on the idea of judicial dueling in [his stand-alone novel] The First Blade Of Ostia, and that’s a concept I’d quite like to explore in more detail at some point, but I think that’s as much history as it is law.
As we’ve been discussing, Dragonslayer is the first book in The Dragonslayer trilogy. What’s interesting is that the other two books are actually going to be out relatively soon. Given that, some people won’t read any of them until Servant comes out, and some will then read all three in rapid succession. Do you think this is a good idea?
I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference when there’s a relatively quick publishing schedule. I tend not to go too heavy on recaps in later series books, as they always annoy me a little as a reader, but I hope the Dragonslayer stories are memorable enough that the main details will still be pretty fresh come November and March. If there’s a more indeterminate amount of time between releases, then I can understand why people would hold off, but the Dragonslayer trilogy will be all done in less than a year.
Earlier I asked if Dragonslayer had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or video games. Has there been any interest in making a Dragonslayer movie, show, or game?
None at all, sadly.
I think for books, nowadays with the production standards for TV being so high, it’s a better medium. You lose so much condensing a book into a 90 minute-or-so movie.
If Dragonslayer and The Dragonslayer trilogy was made into a TV show, who would you like them to cast in the main roles?
Oh, this is one I get asked a bit, and always struggle with. I think for the dragons, who are POV characters in this trilogy, you need someone with a lot of natural gravitas in their voice. Patrick Stewart [Logan] or Morgan Freeman [Ted 2] are actors that jump straight to mind for that requirement.
For Gill, I’m not so sure. My mental image of him changed quite a bit as I wrote the series, as — I suppose — he changed. Solène is a bit similar in that regard. I like my readers to be able to self-project on the characters, so often I’m deliberately a little vague on specifics for major characters. Once I’ve created a sense of “presence” for them, I like to leave it to the reader’s imagination. As such, I rarely have a fully polished image in my head of who could play them.
Amaury, the Prince Bishop, is a little easier: Christophe Waltz doing something similar to his turn as Blofeld [in the James Bond movie Spectre] would fit the bill pretty nicely.
Finally, if someone enjoys Dragonslayer, which of your other trilogies would you suggest they read while waiting for Knight Of The Silver Circle to come out?
The Wolf Of The North has proved pretty popular, so that might be a good place to start.